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"I pride myself on being one of the first to suggest a less-controversial solution to the Olympic problem and that is to build the stadium in Queens," mayoral hopeful U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens) said Tuesday, a day after state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Renssalaer) abstained from a vote to use public money for the $2 billion venture. The football stadium would have hosted the 2012 Olympics and New York Jets. Queens has the need, the space and infrastructure to support a massive new sporting venue and convention center, Weiner said, adding that Willets Point near Flushing Bay would be the perfect spot. Other backers of the idea include Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing)."This is not about the Jets. It's not even about a stadium," Liu said. "It's about saving the Olympic bid for the long-term purposes of creating lasting legacies in housing and transportation."But it is too late for an Olympic venue in Queens because International Olympic Committee rules bar bid cities from altering their plans after they have been submitted, Bloomberg said. He also contended that Queens lacks the luster of Manhattan and would fail to draw corporate sponsors. The Jets were prepared to invest $1.6 billion in the West Side venue. "There is nobody I know that wants to put $1.6 billion into a stadium in Queens," the New York Sun quoted Bloomberg as saying during an interview with reporters Monday. The Jets are certainly not interested. "There is no possibility," team spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein said Tuesday. "I think we've made it very clear that Queens is not a possibility."So the city's chances of beating out Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow have now been critically hobbled, Bloomberg said, even though New York's bid was given high marks in the IOC report released Monday. The committee chooses the winning city on July 6 in Singapore. Paris is considered the front-runner."If we don't have a stadium, we can not get the Olympics," Bloomberg said. The loss would be a blow to Queens, which would host a bulk of the Games. "I hope it doesn't stop the Olympics coming," said Marshall. "I want the Olympics to come because 50 percent of the venues are going to be in Queens."Hunters Point is slated for the $1.6 billion Olympic Village - 4,400 luxury housing units along the East River that would be sold at market rates after the 17-day event.State Sen. George Onorato (R-Long Island City) said the Olympic Village would provide much-needed housing in his district. But the site will likely be developed regardless of the bid outcome, he said. "It's a choice piece of property," Onorato said. "If we don't get Olympic Village, I'm sure there will be other developers interested in using it for residential development."It will be harder to get the recreational and transportation overhauls the Games promise for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Liu said. As host to five venues, the park would get an $83.2 million regatta center in Meadow and Willow Lakes, which would be dredged, purified and connected; a new $47 million bridge on Jewel Avenue across the lakes; and a transformation of the Fountain of the Planets into the East Coast's first artificial canoe and kayak slalom. "Obviously the legacies that have been part of the overall proposal are needed investments," Liu said. "We would still need to push for all of them. I think it's just more difficult without the Olympics being a catalyst."Reach reporter Matthew Monks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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